Sutra (Thread) or Lesson 15: Drstanusravika Visaya Vitrasnasya Vasikara Samjna Vairagyam
Drsta: seen, experienced | Anusravika: heard | Visaya: object | Vitrsnasya: of him who is free from cravings | Vasikara: mastery | Samjna: consciousness, clear knowledge | Vairagyam: non-attachment
Desire can be a beautiful thing when it is paired with non-attachment and comes with a foundation of discernment.
When desires are controlling a person instead of that person simply responding to their desires from a place of choice, however, then this lost control/corruption of the mind and senses will create a situation where that individual is perpetually trapped in a cycle of suffering. When everything that a person thinks about, does, and maybe even speaks of, is based on an uncontrollable urge as opposed to a controlled power over themselves or their urges, he/she can never be at peace. Instead, this person will be in a state of constant grasping for fleeting experiences of pleasure as opposed to peacefully receiving, and constantly enjoying, the blissful pleasure of simply being alive.
In order to achieve peace in the constantly-unfolding present moment so that one can eventually attain enlightenment, one needs to be free from desires; free in the sense that one is not attached to these desires, even though absolute renunciation of desire itself is not required for this freedom to be achieved.
The goal of Yoga, all eight (or your chosen number of) limbs, is to gain control of your mind, body, and senses so that your state of consciousness will rise to one that will allow connection with your divine/highest self-expression. In order to achieve this goal, you have to be fully focused and devoted, with your mind singularly on your practice, without any attachment to other things or even to the outcome of your practice.
If you have ever lost your physical appetite, but still had a desire to live, so you ate food to keep yourself alive by nourishing your body while being unconcerned about, or unattached to, the fact that you can still taste and smell that what you are eating is delicious, or, if you have ever served others without expecting anything in return simply in order to nourish your spirit while being aware of the multiple benefits of your sacrifice, but being unconcerned about them, you will know that desire can be present, pure, and singularly-focused on supporting a positive cause without a person being attached to expectations that would prime them for suffering. Your devotion to your self-realization should be approached from this place of pure, unattached, desire. This most selfish act, the task of being the best that you can be in your lifetime so that you can be in service to the divinity of your and all of creation, by extension of it’s purity, is a selfless service to yourself and to all of creation. When desires are pure, so are the resulting karma (thoughts, words, and actions that have a cause and effect in all of existence), and so are the ultimate end results.
But before you can pursue your desires purely without attachment, you will have to learn to gain control of your mind so that you can become present, aware, and a masterful observer of your desires and ego as opposed to being seduced by, and over-identifying with, them. This control will then gift you with discernment to know whether the pursuit of any given desire will lead to positive or negative outcomes in your life, or in the lives of others, and a “lack of appetite” for anything that is not your connection to your highest expression, which will lead to more happiness and peace for everyone involved.
It is plain to see that desires motivate actions and are not inherently bad. But,
"The mind should not just go and grasp as it wants." -–The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
If you have ever observed your desires neutrally, the feeling of desire itself, and how it attaches itself to, or propels itself toward, the objects/subjects of your desire, you will see how beautiful the desire itself, stripped down naked to its purest form, truly is. You will notice the urge rising from your belly (or anywhere else that it may originate from within you) and you will feel and know how it animates your entire being into either a feeling or thought, or into words, or even into action. If unseduced by these desires, meaning that you are aware of them and appreciate their presence and fulfillment in your life using common sense (Pratyaharas and Dharanas), morals, and decency (Yamas and Niyamas), you will enjoy their presence within your body and being more fully, and relish in the gratification that comes from pursuing and fulfilling the ones that you will know are right to follow.
With unawareness and attachment to desires, however, the mind can create obsessions, perversions, delusions, and get stuck in suffering for the objects and subjects of a given desire. People who kill for, or ruin their lives or other people’s lives for the fulfillment of their desires are good examples of distorted relationships with desires.
Freedom requires no bondage (unless one is consciously choosing this for themselves), and non-attachment requires understanding and diligent observation of one’s mind, being, and self. When desire is present without attachment, what one finds is that one becomes free.
There is very little that is needed for a person, stripped to the essentials, to be happy when they are unattached. When unattached to desires, happiness is a given, and then choices can be made on purpose from that place in order to make one’s life experience truly spectacular, not by effort, but by default. When one’s ego is not getting in the way, and one is not attached to worldly things and is simply focused on their growth or on their service to their spirit, a cause, etc, he/she will have all of their desires fulfilled by the virtue of their state of being, and everything else that comes into their life and brings pleasure will just be an added bonus that simply adds flavor to the enjoyment of life.
This week, I urge you to pay attention to your desires:
- Where are they coming from and what/whom may they be attached/chained to?
- Can you simply be with the feeling/sensation/experience of desire without acting on it?
- If you find the place, within you, of simply being with your desire: what does this place show you about the object/subject of your desire and how it relates to any given aspect of your well-being, ego, identity, and so forth?
- Where is the desire in your body, and what does it do to your mind? Can you look neutrally at a desire and hear what it is really telling you?
- With understanding, will you choose to fulfil a given desire or simply let it go?
- Or, did you discover that the desire that you thought you had for something was far different from what you expected it to be when you really looked at it from a neutral place?